Monday, May 6, 2013

Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of anheuser-Busch and America's King of Beer

By William Knoedelseder

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Two impressions came to mind as I was reading this book. The first impression was about the book, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson—a book I truly enjoyed (and reviewed for Amazon). I was fascinated first by the amazing life of Jobs and, second, by the story-telling ability of Isaacson. The same was true for Bitter Brew. I was totally captivated by the Busch family—all the characters and their idiosyncrasies. In the same way, too, I found the story-telling ability of Knoedelseder truly engrossing. From reading all 366 pages of text, you become totally immersed—delighted, spellbound, almost hypnotized—by the narrative. That is what makes this book so entrancing. Sure, the characters are "one-of-a-kind," but the way Knoedelseder brings them to life charms, bewitches, and beguiles. You just can’t put it down, and when you’re finished with it, you crave more.

The second impression you may find difficult to understand.or appreciate unless you have experienced it for yourself. I have watched the entire "Showcase" presentation of "The Tudors," and I have seen some amazing parallels between the story of the Busch family and that of the Tudor family. It is almost as if the Busches were royalty—and in St. Louis they were certainly treated as such—as well as in many other places, too, I might add. But the partying, drinking, and womanizing that went on in the Tudor family resembles some of what went on in the Busch family, too. And, of course, there is much of the same result from the comment, "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Yes, of course, it is sad to see it happen to anyone, much less families of people, but it is a real adrenaline rush, I have to admit, to have an opportunity to witness it (through a book). It is living vicariously, of course, but what an absolute, totally engrossing, throughly entertaining, opportunity.

Incidentally, I will not be at all surprised that a movie isn’t made of this book (perhaps, along with the book Dethroning the King—which I have not read). It would make a fabulous series for "Showcase," much as "The Tudors" was. It has all the elements: drugs, guns, sex, power, money, cops, murder, sports, mansions, private jets and helicopters, cover-ups, media reporters, and mis-behavior. How entertaining would that be?

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